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A couple walk past the mural on the wall of the Sandpiper guest house

Brighton mural of Churchill in stockings and suspenders given reprieve

A rainbow mural of seven Winston Churchills wearing stockings and suspenders which prompted a complaint from the local council because of the wartime prime minister’s trademark V-sign is to be allowed to remain in place.

The artwork, which appeared on the wall of the Sandpiper guest house on one of Brighton’s busiest streets, was the subject of a council complaint over Churchill’s victory sign, which he used throughout the war.

Brighton and Hove city council originally told Mr Phillips, who runs the Sandpiper and only provided his surname, that someone would have to paint over the hand gestures before it realised their historical significance and backed down.

According to reports, a passersby had complained to the council after finding the gesture offensive, apparently in the belief that Churchill was swearing by flicking a V.

The street artist Tom Norris, known as Horace, created the mural as part of a series featuring well-known Brightonians and those with links to the city. Churchill went to school in Hove.

A couple walk past the mural on the wall of the Sandpiper guest house
A couple walk past the mural on the wall of the Sandpiper guest house. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA

Norris said he was surprised the cause of concern had been Churchill’s hand gesture rather than the fact he was wearing lingerie.

“We were told the council would paint over it, so I was prepared to go and pixelate the hands, but I was worried that would not be good enough,” he said. “I was happy to see that they changed their mind.”

Norris said he had first painted a similar mural in the city’s Churchill Square, but was arrested for criminal damage, his stencil was confiscated and the was artwork painted over.

He decided to repaint the piece with a new stencil, this time obtaining permission from the local guest house for the use of its wall.

Churchill was painted without trousers because he could not find a suitable full-length picture to work with, and felt the stockings and suspenders matched the atmosphere of the city,” Horace said

Phillips said: “It is a nice picture but some people said it was rude because of the V-sign, but that is the victory sign. Once the council were told that, they responded and apologised and said it didn’t need to be changed.

“I am pleased we have been told not to change it. Many people have been taking pictures with it because Winston Churchill has that connection to Hove.”

Brighton and Hove council has been contacted for comment.

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